A group of artists from the arts and culture fraternity has petitioned Parliament, seeking for a halt into redevelopments at the Uganda National Culture Center (UNCC).
The center currently houses the National Theatre, national crafts village and the Nommo gallery on Plot 4, Victoria Avenue.
The group led by Charles Batambuze and local drama actor, Andrew Benon Kibuuka, presented the petition to the Speaker of Parliament, Rebecca Kadaga on March 27, 2017, said government should not privatize the development of UNCC but should fund its development from public resources following the original development plan.
Batambuze said the original plan already got the required approvals and stakeholder support and if government is unable, the board of trustees of UNCC should appeal to the public who include the arts and culture fraternity to finance development of the center.
“Like it has been at the start of UNCC in the 1950s, artists of our generation are ready to spearhead a campaign to raise the resources required to develop the UNCC,” Batambuze said.
Kibuuka said that private developers will not generate the desired resources for developing resources for developing arts and culture sector.
“To the contrary, the proposed redevelopment will kill the existing activities at the National Theater and Nommo gallery and render the entire project a white elephant. It is a fact that Kampala is expanding outwards due to a number of physical planning and infrastructural challenges. Construction of storied buildings will only add to the existing challenges,” Kibuuka explained.
Under the proposed redevelopment, government in partnership with a private developer plans to construct twin towers, three theatres, residential apartments, offices and malls.
The artists stated that the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Development has left the preservation of the arts and culture sector to private entities whose interest is for commercial purposes.
“We strongly feel that government should embrace the culture of conserving and preserving tangible and intangible heritage. The national theater building is such a unique architectural work that deserves conservation, and it must not only be conserved but protected from being dwarfed and rendered inconsequential,” the petitioners said.
Kadaga assured the petitioners that their issues will be discussed in the committee of Gender.